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10 March 2012

On growing strawberries and recipe for Eggless Strawberry Yogurt Cake

My three year old son and me have a morning routine nowadays. After his drink of milk, we go to the garden and check if there's any red peeking out of the strawberry patch. If we didn't do this, the squirrels and ants, who have been blessed with a better foraging sense than us human beings, will get to the juicy berries before we do. We don't get too much, but a small handful a day, to add to cereal or to make a couple of muffins, or to eat as it is. The latter doesn't happen often as I am not very tolerant to acidic fruits and I'm yet to taste lusciously sweet strawberries grown in India. Here, strawberry needs sugar as a partner to make it more palatable. 


But, however little, that sense of joy we get from having watched something grow for nearly eight months, and finally bearing fruit, is such a fulfilling one. These strawberry saplings were planted in June and they quickly propagated and covered the ground, but there was not a single flower in sight even after six months. The newbie gardener that I am, I quickly lost hope. Patience is clearly not one of my virtues, hence I stand to benefit a lot from gardening. I am slowly learning that nature doesn't work at the speed of a 4Mbps internet connection. It takes its own sweet time. And what sweeter time than spring time? I don't need my neighbours to drench me in permanent colours (albeit organic) and hose me with tons of water, to announce the arrival of spring (I'm talking about the one festival I dread, Holi). The new blooms and fruits in my garden had already whispered to me a few weeks ago that spring is not far away...


Just plucked strawberries basking in the morning sun




A few years ago, if someone told me that I could grow strawberries in India, I would have laughed it off. But Bangalore weather is somehow to conducive to growing almost anything. Like my friend @abithaanandh tweeted this morning -
 "Am willing to overlook 11pm deadlines,bad infrastructure,forever 90s music loop- all 4 those few precious hrs in the garden! Tk U #Bangalore"
It is so true. I'll continue to grow strawberries next year too. I'm told they bear better fruit in the 2nd and 3rd year. Only, I'll be growing them in hanging baskets, so I dont have to compete with the ants to pluck the fruit!


I've been wanting to bake a strawberry cake for a while now. Not the types where the fruit is pureed in, but stands out like red jewels, slightly mushy from the baking and a burst of flavour in the mouth, when you bite into it. And somehow, I wanted to pair it with yogurt as I couldn't use eggs in this. A Foodblogsearch didn't find me the kind of recipe I had in mind, so I did my own improvisation. Yesterday afternoon, just before the baking session, I found a bottle of strawberry essence at Nilgiri's, so the fruit, the essence and the jam made the taste pretty intense, but not in the cloying sort of way.


The recipe I'm sharing with you seems to be the most low-fat and healthiest version among all those that I went through as a result of my various searches.

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This is a tea cake or a weekend breakfast cake. I'm not asking you to believe that it's dessert. Umm...may be with ice cream, yes :)


The texture was very moist and delicate despite not using eggs or butter.
Do give it a try before the strawberry season bids us a goodbye.






Recipe for Strawberry-Yogurt Cake
Eggfree / Eggless / Lowfat
Tea time or breakfast cake
Makes 1 tall 8" cake




Ingredients

¾ cup yogurt
¼ cup milk (skimmed or toned, as you prefer)
¼ cup rice bran oil (or any cooking oil)
¾ cup sugar
2 generous tablespoons of strawberry or mixed fruit jam
1 tsp Strawberry essence or mixed fruit essence (gives a more fruitier flavour, if you don’t have either, use vanilla extract 1 tsp)

1.5 cups all purpose flour OR 1 cup AP flour + ½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

Roughly 1 cup finely diced strawberries
Handful of tutti-frutty (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 180 C
  2. Grease an 8” round cake tin. If using silicon pan, no need to grease.
  3. In one bowl, whisk the oil, yogurt, milk, sugar and jam.
  4. In another big bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well. Add the whisked wet ingredients. Fold until they come together. Over enthusiastic beating / whisking is better avoided.
  5. Towards the end, fold in chopped berries and tutti-fruity.
  6. Scrape the batter into the greased tin / silicon mould and bake at 180 C for around 45-55 minutes, checking with a tester if it comes out clean.
  7. After 10 minutes, unmould and cool on a wire rack.
  8. Cut into wedges, dust with icing sugar and serve with tea.

The same recipe will work with raspberries or blueberries to make a blueberry yogurt cake or a raspberry yogurt cake.

See what people have to say about this cake! (via Twitter)





16 comments:

Saee Koranne-Khandekar said...

I have always been a fan of your gardening skills--I have a small window garden and often wonder if I'll get as good as you.

I agree with your about the strawberries--most of the ones we find here are tart, not sweet; almost orange, not red. In mahabaleshwar, though, I have eaten huge, juicy, red, sweet strawberries and luckily, they are now available for a handsome price in some Mumbai supermarkets. That cake looks great--bookmarking it to try sometime soon before the season ends!

Turmeric n Spice said...

growing your own produce has so many charms - but i agree its not for the weak ..

my mom is growing strawberries in India and every week I see her plant on face time, it is so exciting to see little red thingies sprout from the flowers !!

great cake

have a nice weekend

lavirgo said...

hi,nice to know u grow ur own stuff, y dont u start blogging abt ur garden adventures as well. would enlighten many of us ...;)

notyet100 said...

Cke looks gorgeous nd healthy too

Shilpa said...

This is my first time commenting on your blog, have been following it for some time now,have no idea why i haven't written before...this is such a sweet post,the cake looks yummy have to try it.

Nandita said...

@Saee - thanks for your appreciation, however I am a complete newbie and I'm learning as I go. Even from my years in Bombay, I've never tasted an utterly sweet juicy berry, even from Mahabaleshwar. May be something to do with the weather. But some of the tiny ripe ones in the garden do manage to taste sweet. Nothing like a window sill garden to start with!

@Turmeric and spice - where in India is your mom trying to grow these? Mumbai weather is not much for these kinda plants, I can say from personal experience.

@lavirgo I'm trying to incorporate my gardening notes into each post, another blog would mean that I'll neglect all my blogs :)

jsb said...

I've been following your blog for a long time and enjoying it immensely, especially since you've started writing about your gardening. I also do some gardening in Bangalore. Could you let me know where you got the strawberry seedlings from? Am going to try making the strawberry cake asap

Nitisha said...

I have been following you on twitter and your posts...wonderful!I have just put in my cake in the oven and while they bake,wanted to thank you...the very fact that the cake is so simple and so less fat is what is so attractive!

Nandita said...

@jsb the gardening people attached to our complex got the saplings from me, I shall enquire and get back to you soon.

@Nitasha - Loved the fact that you tried it and liked it - I have embedded your tweets in the post :)

Anu said...

Wow!!! Looks delicious without egg. Happy to follow you

Suma Rowjee said...

I am not a huge fan of strawberries thanks to their tartness, always makes me wonder why people rave about them. The only time I liked them was when I made an ice cream :)
I was actually shocked when someone told me you could grow the berries in a pot!!

Your cake looks delicious and moist, I hope to try this soon!

Aparna said...

A must-try recipe, will definitely try it out soon, though I don't think the meagre amt of strawberries in my garden will be enough input for this !! Loved your tip about the hanging baskets for strawberries, will definitely try them out next season too :).

Muses said...

The cake looks delicious. The plates the cake is sitting on are lovely as well.

saffrontrail said...

thank you!

Sriranjani said...

The cake looks really good. I have bout three strawberry plants and they don't tend to bear bigger fruits but all the small fruits they bore were really sweet and about a hundred times better than the store bought ones. Although I don't get a sufficient harvest to cook with them I am currently only munching them as a garden snack  each morning when I water them.

Lakshmi said...

Hi! I made this cake.. tasted really yummy. However I felt it was a bit undercooked especially around the strawberry pieces. Any suggestions? I baked the cake in a ceramic pan since i use a microwave convection oven.

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